Working parents have traditionally figured out child care services on their own, but some employers have opened on-site centers to ease that burden.
Patagonia, Campbell’s Soup and Jackson National Life Insurance Co. are some firms that have opened their doors to provide a range of childcare services for employees. The benefit means parents miss fewer work days and, for U.S. businesses, a sizeable savings considering they bleed about $4.4 billion yearly because of employee absenteeism, according to Child Care Aware of America, So reports CNET.
“Access to high-quality child care increases morale and employer loyalty, but businesses suffer when child care is unavailable for working parents—to the tune of over $4 billion annually,” says Lynette M. Fraga, executive director of Child Care Aware of America.
Technology giants Google, Cisco and Genentech also offer onsite campus child care services, with San Francisco-based Genentech noting that its center “allows working parents the flexibility they need while caring for a child and the peace-of-mind they require to know their child is nearby and properly cared for,” CNETreports. For San Jose-based Cisco, “providing child care options allows our employees to be their best,” according to the firm.
Camden, New Jersey-based Campbell’s Soup provides its employees a family center for infants to kindergarteners, the HarvardBusinessReviewreports. The firm also provides a 10-week, gender blind parental leave policy and more than 12 family lounges.
“This is subsidized, and we provide food, with a focus on healthy, nutritious options,” says Kerrin Donnelly, director of global integrated facilities. “Backup care is also available at the Family Center.”
One technology giant missing from the firms offering child center centers is Apple. This despite Apple spending $5 billion for a new campus in Silicon Valley outlaid with thousands of trees and 100,000-square foot fitness and wellness center, including a two-story yoga room, CNETreports. The new campus opened in April of last year and accommodates 12,000 employees.
“We need to be able to take care of ourselves and our bodies by having great gyms, but we also have to make sure to have healthy learning environments that are safe for our children,” says Julie Kashen, policy director for Make It Work, a group that focuses on economic justice for women and working families.
Apple falls in line with most employers, as only 2% of U.S. firms in 2016 had offered subsidized child care centers for employees that are onsite or at a nearby location, CNET reports, citing an employees benefits survey from the Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM). That has trended down from when it was 9% in 1996.
Reasons for forgoing child care centers is that they are too costly and that it is too difficult to run a heavily regulated operation. There also is liability/legal concerns, but companies do deal with liability risk for running onsite gyms.
Jackson National Life Insurance in Michigan went all-in with its standalone child care center within its main campus, reports Bridge, an online publication from The Center for Michigan that is operated as a joint venture with Crain’sDetroitBusiness. The center is operated by Portland, Oregon-based KinderCare Education.
There were nearly 94 children enrolled at Jackson’s child development center, with almost 63% of the children from Jackson employees. The need for child care is strong in Michigan, where it can run a family nearly $10,000 annually, on average, according to the Economic Policy Institute. The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce in October hosted a legislative panel discussion that informed business leaders on child care in the workplace.
“If we get this right, we can do a better job of attracting and retaining the talent that our employers need, and parents benefit a whole lot when they have good places for their kids,” says Andy Johnston, vice president of government and corporate affairs for the Grand Rapids chamber. “One of the things we need to do is rally the business community around it,” Johnston says, noting the lack of advocacy on this issue from businesses.